Book burning in Germany in 1933

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Book burning on Opernplatz in Berlin on May 10, 1933

The book burning in Germany on May 10, 1933 was an action planned and staged by the German student body in which students, professors and members of National Socialist party organs threw the works of authors ostracized by them (see list of books burned in 1933 ) into the fire. It took place under the leadership of the National Socialist German Student Union (NSDStB) on the former Berlin Opernplatz (since 1947 Bebelplatz ; named after August Bebel ) and in 21 other German university towns.

The public book burnings were the climax of the so-called “Action against the un-German spirit”, with which the systematic persecution of Jewish , Marxist , pacifist and other opposition or politically unpopular writers began shortly after the Nazis came to power in March 1933 .

The "action against the un-German spirit"

Book burning on Opernplatz
Appeal of the student body of the University of Würzburg to clean the private libraries of "un-German literature". (Flyer from April 1933)

The German student body (DSt) was already shaped by national politics during the Weimar Republic , the student body was increasingly dominated by nationalist, anti-Semitic and anti- republican forces, and a clearly reactionary , chauvinist and nationalist spirit prevailed at German universities . Since the summer of 1931, the DSt was led by a representative of the National Socialist German Student Union (NSDStB) , who had won 44.4 percent of the votes in the AStA elections in 1931. After the National Socialists came to power on January 30, 1933, the DSt and NSDStB competed for supremacy. In order to increase the effectiveness of the organization, three months after the seizure of power and shortly after the establishment of the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in March 1933, a separate “Main Office for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Union” was set up in the “Reichsleitung der Deutschen Studentenschaft”.

At the beginning of April 1933, the German student body asked its bodies to take part in a four-week “Action Against the Un-German Spirit”, one of the main initiators of which was Hans Karl Leistritz , the head of the main office. It was supposed to start on April 12th and end on May 10th with spectacular public book burnings. The action took place with reference to the book burning at the Wartburg Festival in 1817 and was designed as an “overall action against the Jewish decomposing spirit”: “The Jewish spirit, as it reveals itself in all its unrestrained agitation in the world, and as it has already found expression in German literature has to be eradicated from this. ”For university policy, the“ action against the un-German spirit ”meant the beginning of the conquest of the universities by the student bodies declared to be“ intellectual SA ”.

As a first measure, the order was given to form “combat committees against the un-German spirit” at the universities, which should include two students, a professor, a representative of the “ Combat League for German Culture ” headed by Alfred Rosenberg and a writer. The leader of the respective student body held the chair.


The most important element of the students' political struggle was propaganda work . On April 2, 1933, one day after the boycott of Jewish shops , a detailed schedule was drawn up, and on April 6, the individual student bodies were informed of the imminent action in a circular:

“On the occasion of the shameless atrocity of Judaism abroad, the German student body is planning a four-week overall campaign against the Jewish disintegration spirit and for people-conscious thinking and feeling in German literature. The campaign begins on April 12th with the public posting of 12 theses 'Against the undeutsche Geist' and ends on May 10th with public rallies at all German university locations. The action will be carried out - in constant increment until May 10th - with all means of propaganda, such as: radio, press, pillar posting, leaflets and special article service of the DSt-Akademische Korrespondenz. "

- Files of the German student body

With this initiative, the leadership of the German student body did everything in its power to prove that it was ready and able to mobilize the students for National Socialism. It was in competition with the National Socialist German Student Union, which after the Reichstag elections in March 1933 had claimed the exclusive right to political education for students. In the course of the preparations there was therefore a dispute between the two organizations and their leaders Gerhard Krüger (DSt) and Oskar Stäbel (NSDStB). On the day before the start of the action, on April 11th, Stäbel issued an urgent order not only to support the DSt's action, but to “take the lead”.

The twelve theses against the un-German spirit (leaflet from April 12, 1933)

"12 theses against the un-German spirit"

The beginning was on April 12, 1933 with the publication of the 12 theses against the un-German spirit. Instead of well-founded theses, it only contains the positions and goals of the “Aktion” and denounces Jewish, social democratic, communist and liberal ideas and their representatives. The "theses" were posted in red Fraktur typeface in German universities and printed by many newspapers:


  1. Language and literature are rooted in the people. The German people are responsible for ensuring that their language and literature are a pure and unadulterated expression of their nationality.
  2. Today there is a gap between literature and German nationality. This condition is a disgrace.
  3. The purity of language and literature is up to you! Your people have given you the language for faithful preservation.
  4. Our most dangerous adversary is the Jew and he who is a slave to him.
  5. The Jew can only think in Jewish terms. If he writes in German, he is lying. The German who writes in German but thinks un-German is a traitor. The student who speaks and writes non-German is also thoughtless and unfaithful to his task.
  6. We want to eradicate lies, we want to brand treason, we do not want places of thoughtlessness for the student but of discipline and political education.
  7. We want to respect the Jew as a stranger and we want to take the people seriously. We therefore demand from the censors: Jewish works appear in the Hebrew language. If they appear in German, they must be marked as a translation. Strongest intervention against the misuse of the German script. German writing is only available to Germans. The un-German spirit is stamped out from public libraries.
  8. We require the German student to be willing and able to make independent decisions.
  9. We demand the will and the ability to keep the German language clean from the German student.
  10. We demand from the German student the will and the ability to overcome Jewish intellectualism and the associated liberal decline in German intellectual life.
  11. We demand the selection of students and professors according to the certainty of thinking in the German spirit.
  12. We demand the German university as a refuge of the German people and as a battleground from the power of the German spirit. "

The local “combat committees” were intended to spearhead the student body against “Jewish intellectualism”. Head of the nationwide "Combat Committee Against the Un-German Spirit" was Paul Karl Schmidt, who became known in the post-war period under the pseudonym Paul Carell . He drew the poster and was responsible for the 12 theses. He recommended himself for his later anti-Jewish war propaganda as press chief in the Foreign Office . After 1945 he became a journalist and successful non-fiction author.

Article service

Parallel to the poster campaign, a so-called “article service” was organized with supporting statements from nationally active cultural workers and intellectuals, through which the public was to be attuned to the campaign. 66 writers, whose "attitude to German literature" was known to the student body, were asked to provide an article to be distributed in the press via the DSt article service, including Werner Bergengruen , Richard Billinger , Paul Ernst , Max Halbe , Karl Jaspers and Julius Streicher . The success of this action was very poor. Most of those who had been contacted did not respond at all, not even Alfred Rosenberg , who had been asked to introduce the action in a separate letter. A number of writers pointed out that the lead time was too short and offered to reprint what had already been published, such as Erwin Guido Kolbenheyer, who lives in Munich . In the end, only four articles could be published, namely by Herbert Böhme , Will Vesper , Alfred Baeumler and Kurt Herwarth Ball (see “Newspaper Reports” below).

Boycott of professors

On April 19, the DSt leadership called for a further action to take up the fight “against the university professor who is unfit for our German university”. The slogan was: “The state has been conquered. Not the university yet! The spiritual SA moves in. Raise the flag! ”The students were called upon to report professors who had to resign from their offices under the law for the restoration of the professional civil service of April 7, 1933, with affidavits and incriminating sources such as quotes from lectures or literature references. In addition to Jews , members of communist organizations or the Reich Banner, according to the interpretation of the DSt leadership, this also included people who "insulted national leaders, the movement of the national uprising or frontline soldiers", as well as professors whose "scientific method was liberal or in particular their pacifist attitude ”. University professors with a “politically impeccable attitude” should also be reported to the DSt leadership, provided they have “more than just mediocre talent”. Almost all universities took part in this action and faculty, deans and rectors supported it. There were organized attacks against Jewish lecturers, administrative staff and fellow students, lectures were disrupted and boycotted, and Jewish professors were prevented from entering their workplaces.

The public hunt went so far that two meter high " stakes " were erected at the universities of Königsberg , Rostock , Erlangen , Münster and Dresden , on which the names of hostile professors and individual literary writings were posted:

“We will erect a stake at all universities. A chunky tree trunk, a little over a man's height, on college grounds. On the stake we will nail the products of those who are not of our spirit. And we will leave this stake standing forever. As long as we need him. Today for the writers, tomorrow for the professors. On the whole, always ready for those who do not want to or can never understand it. The stake should be displayed in the universities around May 3rd. "

The student body of the University of Rostock reported that on May 5th a big celebration "with the establishment of the stake" took place, at which "8 of the worst literary works were beaten with durable four-inch dials: Magnus Hirschfeld , Tucholsky , Stephan [sic!] Zweig , Lion Feuchtwanger , Wikki [sic!] Baum , Remarque , Emil Ludwig and ' Die Weltbühne ' ”.

Book collection

Students of the German University for Physical Education in front of the Institute for Sexology in Berlin before the looting on May 6, 1933

The second phase of the "Enlightenment Campaign" began on April 26, 1933 with the collection of the "corrosive literature". Each student first had to clean his own library and that of his acquaintances of “harmful” books, then the university and institute libraries were searched. Public libraries and bookstores were also searched for “burnable” literature. The city and public libraries were required to "clean up" their holdings themselves and to hand over the books voluntarily. The students received support from their professors and rectors, who not only appeared later at the cremation ceremonies, but also worked on the combat committees to sort out the material intended for incineration. The basis for the selection of books was the “black lists” of the 29-year-old librarian Wolfgang Herrmann (see: List of books burned in 1933 ).

Book stores and libraries also actively supported the student campaign. The specialist body of the Association of German People's Librarians and the Börsenblatt des Deutschen Buchhandels distributed and commented on the prohibited lists; the librarians pointed out in their explanations that the literature to be destroyed was predominantly of Jewish origin. Those materially damaged by the seizures did not defend themselves, the lending libraries were even asked to sign a declaration:

“I hereby affirm that I will remove the books published on the 'black list' I have received from my lending library and will no longer borrow them. I know that borrowing these books again will result in legal penalties. "

On May 6th, the final phase of the “Action against the un-German spirit” began with a nationwide pillage of lending libraries and bookshops. The indexed books were collected and removed by student raiding parties. In Berlin stormed students of the German University of Physical Education and School of Veterinary Medicine, the Institute of Sexology of Magnus Hirschfeld in the district of Tiergarten ( "In the tents") and plundered the comprehensive ten thousand volumes library. Hirschfeld himself saw the destruction of his life's work in a Parisian cinema in a newsreel.

Fire spells

Tucholsky in Paris, 1928

The third step of the poster and collection campaign was to be followed by the actual “execution of the demon”, as the “Main Office for Enlightenment and Advertising” of the German student body had announced at the beginning of the campaign: “On May 10, 1933, the The students saw the burning of books as a symbolic act: just as fire was said to have a purifying, disease-driving effect in the past, so it should be expressed that “in Germany the nation is purified internally and externally hat ”(Joseph Goebbels in his speech at Berlin Opernplatz on May 10, 1933).

For this purpose, so-called “fire sayings” were sent in a circular to the individual student bodies on May 9th, which were supposed to form a uniform symbolic basis for the book burnings on the next day. This series of predetermined slogans should be heard across the country when representatives of the student body threw the works of exemplary "trash and dirt" literary writers into the fire. This emphasized the symbolic act of the book burnings and gave them the character of a ritual . The circular was signed by Gerhard Krüger ( DSt ) and the head of the office, Hans Karl Leistritz :

“The list given below is to be used as the basis for the symbolic act in the act of cremation, and the speech of the student representative should be taken as a basis as literally as possible. Since it will practically not be possible in most cases to burn the entire books, a restriction to throwing in the fonts given in the following list should be appropriate. This does not exclude the possibility that a large pile of books will still be burned. The local organizers have complete freedom.

1. Rufer: Against class struggle and materialism , for national community and idealistic way of life!
I hand the writings of Marx and Kautsky over to the flame .

2. Rufer: Against decadence and moral decay! For discipline and custom in the family and the state!
I hand over the writings of Heinrich Mann , Ernst Glaeser and Erich Kästner to the flame .

3. Rufer: Against lasciviousness and political betrayal, for devotion to the people and the state!
I hand over the writings of Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster to the flame .

4. Rufer: Against soul-tearing overestimation of instinctual life, for the nobility of the human soul!
I give the writings of Sigmund Freud to the flame .

5. Rufer: Against falsification of our history and degradation of their great figures, for reverence for our past!
I hand over the writings of Emil Ludwig and Werner Hegemann to the flame .

6. Rufer: Against alien journalism of democratic-Jewish character, for responsible cooperation in the work of national construction!
I hand over the writings of Theodor Wolff and Georg Bernhard to the flame .

7. Rufer: Against literary betrayal of the soldiers of the World War , for educating the people in the spirit of defensiveness!
I hand over the writings of Erich Maria Remarque to the flame .

8. Rufer: Against the conceited corruption of the German language, for the care of our people's most precious good!
I give Alfred Kerr's writings to the flame .

9. Rufer: Against cheek and arrogance, for respect and reverence for the immortal German folk spirit!
Devour, flame, also the writings of Tucholsky and Ossietzky ! "

- Neuköllner Tageblatt. No. 111, May 12, 1933.

In the radio broadcast from Berlin's Opernplatz small deviations from these texts can be heard, so the callers used the word “fire” instead of “flame”, except in the last fire saying. Karl Marx is named by his first name, Sigmund Freud is burned as "soul-destroying" and with the "writings of Sigmund Freud's school", and Emil Ludwig is called "Emil Ludwig Cohn" to great jubilation.

The book burnings

May 10, 1933 was planned as the climax of the "Action against the un-German spirit". Everything was to be carried out according to the general staff, a precise schedule was passed on to the local student bodies: between 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., a rally by the student body in the auditorium of the respective university was supposed to open the action, and after dark a torchlight procession had the books to the cremation site where the event should end between 11 p.m. and midnight with the actual "cremation act". The student bodies were urged to strictly adhere to this schedule and to make the action as complex as possible, since a radio relay report for Deutsche Welle was planned between 11 p.m. and midnight . The literal reading of the fire sayings was also binding. In all cities the funeral pyre had been set up during the day, in front of which the participants awaited a public lecture, which was mostly given by professors from the respective university. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels also spoke in Berlin, giving the event an official note.

May 10, 1933 in Berlin

The confiscated books are collected on a trolley and driven to the Opernplatz in Berlin to be burned, picture taken from the Federal Archives

After Alfred Baeumler's inaugural lecture , who had been appointed professor of philosophy and political education in the Reich capital, the torchlight procession formed on Hegelplatz behind the university and then moved along the Museum Island to the student house on Oranienburger Strasse , where trucks were waiting for them about 25,000 books were loaded. Fritz Hippler , the Brandenburg leader of the NSDStB and later producer of the anti-Semitic propaganda film The Eternal Jew , gave a hate speech until at 10 p.m. the procession set off in pouring rain to the sounds of an SA brass band towards Königsplatz in front of the Reichstag . The head of a broken bust of Magnus Hirschfeld was carried on a stick . Lined with thousands of onlookers, the train with members of the National Socialist German Student Union , other students, including corporation students in color , professors in gowns , associations of the SA and SS and the Hitler Youth , escorted by mounted police, through the Brandenburg Gate over the Linden -Boulevard to Opernplatz (today: Bebelplatz ) next to the State Opera . SA and SS bands played patriotic tunes and marching songs, the whole Opernplatz was lit up with the spotlights of the newsreel.

Since the pyre could not be lit because of the pouring rain, the fire brigade helped with petrol cans. After the speech of the student leader Herbert Gutjahr with the words: “We have turned our actions against the un-German spirit. I'll hand everything un-German to the fire! ”Ended, nine selected representatives of the student body threw the first books into the flames in addition to the striking“ fire sayings ”. Afterwards, to the great cheering of the students and the audience, the remaining books were lifted off the trucks in bundles and passed on by a human chain, at the end of which the books of the “un-German spirit” by, for example, Karl Marx , Heinrich Heine , Kurt Tucholsky , Sigmund Freud and many others - 94 authors in total - were thrown into the fire. Many of the ostracized authors (as far as they were still alive) were already abroad at this point; Erich Kästner was probably the only one among the onlookers and had to listen to his name being called.

About 70,000 people took part in this action. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels , who had a doctorate in German studies, appeared around midnight and gave his speech, at the end of which all that remained of the books was a pile of smoking ash. With the singing of the Horst Wessel Song ended beacon .

The broadcast of the German station from Berlin's Opernplatz has been handed down.

The university cities

Book burning in Braunschweig, memorial plaque on Schlossplatz
Memorial to the memory of the book burning on Kaiser-Friedrich-Ufer in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel

At the same time as in Berlin, book burnings took place on May 10, 1933 in twenty-one other university cities: Bonn , Braunschweig , Bremen , Breslau , Dortmund , Dresden , Frankfurt am Main , Göttingen , Greifswald , Hanover , Hannoversch Münden , Kiel , Königsberg , Landau , Marburg , Munich , Münster , Nuremberg , Rostock , Worms and Würzburg .

Since there were heavy rains on May 10th, the action had to be postponed in some cities; Until May 19, eight more book burnings took place: on May 12 in Erlangen and Halle (Saale) , on May 15 in Hamburg , on May 17 in Heidelberg and Cologne , on May 19 in Mannheim and Kassel (with 30,000 Involved).

The public cremation planned for May 10 in Freiburg was initially canceled for unexplained reasons, but an alternative date for a smaller, "symbolic" cremation with youth associations and students in the university stadium was initially named for June 21; after this too had to be canceled at short notice due to bad weather, then for the local NS solstice celebration on June 24th together with the Freiburg student body. The philosopher Martin Heidegger , who was then the new Rector of Freiburg University, gave a speech:

"[...] Flame announce us, light us up, show us the way from which there is no turning back! Flames ignite, hearts burn! "

The last student book burning took place on June 21 in Darmstadt , while the first had already taken place on May 8 in Gießen . For the universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen as well as for Singen , the commissioner for the Württemberg student bodies, Gerhard Schumann , banned participation in the campaign and upheld his ban despite the protests made by individual student bodies in Berlin. The Danzig student body announced that due to the political situation of the city, which was under the administration of the League of Nations , it was not possible to carry out the action in public.

In Hamburg , the book burning by students and fraternity members took place on May 15, 1933 at Kaiser-Friedrich-Ufer / corner Heymannstrasse in Eimsbüttel near the Isebek Canal. The place has been called "Book Burning Square" since 1985. Because of the introduction of the new Senate on May 10, 1933, the book burning was postponed by five days. Only a manageable amount took part. The book burning was therefore repeated on May 30, 1933 at Lübeckertordamm, the later location of the Alster swimming pool, with the participation of Hitler Youth and women from the Association of German Girls. In Hamburg-Bergedorf the book burning took place on June 24, 1933 on the sports field on Schulenbrooksweg.

The book burning in Hanover took place on May 10, 1933 at the Bismarck Column. The books had been collected in the Technical University and in schools.

There were two book burnings in Munich, one by the Hitler Youth on May 6, 1933, because the leadership of the Hitler Youth had instructed its branches to “burn all Marxist, pacifist writings and books in all places”, and one by the German student body on May 10, 1933, in which 50,000 onlookers took part on Königsplatz . All Bavarian radio stations reported about it.

In Kiel, students met in the university auditorium, went to the city library in a torchlight procession and burned the books on Wilhelmplatz.

The book burnings themselves were carried out by the German Student Union (the umbrella association of the general student committees - AStA ) and the NSDStB and were carried out with the approval of the authorities, and were even accompanied and looked after by the police and fire brigade. Numerous professors took part in the book burnings and stood in front of the stake in gowns to give fire speeches, for example the philosopher Alfred Baeumler in Berlin, the Germanist Hans Naumann in Bonn and the Germanists Friedrich Neumann and Gerhard Fricke in Göttingen. Will Vesper gave the keynote address in Dresden . In Greifswald, the book burning was part of the “Action for the German Spirit” of the NSDStB group that lasted several weeks. Under the technical direction of Wolfgang Stammler and Hans Wilhelm Hagen , PhD students from Greifswald contrasted “German” literature with the “un-German” literature to be burned in the Pomeranian newspapers. In Frankfurt around 15,000 people were gathered on the Römer , many of them students in SA uniform, but also teachers and professors in gowns and berets on their heads. The books were taken to the stake on an ox cart, with a pitchfork in the middle to identify it as a dung cart. The student pastor Otto Fricke held the fire speech there . In some places the students burned flags as well as books. In Hamburg the flag of the Red Front Fighter Association was thrown into the flames, in Mannheim and Königsberg the black, red and gold flag of the Weimar Republic .

After the " Anschluss of Austria " in March 1938, there was also a student book burning on April 30, 1938 on the Residenzplatz in Salzburg , organized by the Nazi teachers' association under the patronage of Karl Springenschmid , the "Goebbels of Salzburg". 1,200 books by clerical and Jewish authors fell victim to this incineration, including the works of the Salzburg resident Stefan Zweig and the Max Reinhardt monograph by Siegfried Jacobsohn , when they were burned: “May the fire also consume the shame and disgrace of our German city of this shit happened. May the city of Mozart be free and German ! "

Non-student promotions

Non-student book burnings had already occurred in the course of the Nazi terror after the Reichstag election in March 1933 in several cities by the SA and SS , for example in Dresden (March 8), Braunschweig (March 9), Würzburg (March 10) , Heidelberg (March 12), Kaiserslautern (March 26), Münster (March 31), Wuppertal (April 1), Leipzig (April 1 and May 2), Düsseldorf (April 11) and Coburg (7 April) May), where often the centers of the remaining opposition such as party, trade union and social democratic publishing houses were stormed and looted, but also works by individual authors like In the West Nothing New by Erich Maria Remarque were burned. When the Social Democratic People's Friend House was stormed in Braunschweig, one person was already killed. These book burnings provided a decisive impetus for the subsequent student “action against the un-German spirit”.

On May 30, 1933, by order of Kurt Otto , National Socialist Governor of the Provincial Administration of Saxony, the monumental works created by Charles Crodel for the Goethe year 1932 as part of the restoration of the spa facilities of Bad Lauchstädt were publicly burned and completely destroyed:

“Everything will be done to erase the ugly traces in the provincial administration that the so-called modern art movement, misled by Jews, has left here and there. In the venerable Goethe Theater in Lauchstädt, I was indignant to discover that this space, sanctified by our great German poet, had been disguised in a hideous way by graffiti that had nothing to do with art. I have ordered that the cultural shame be wiped out immediately. The work is already in progress. The stage framing of the Goethetheater will be restored in the form that Goethe gave it. In this act of restoring the original condition of this sacred space, see the symbol that National Socialism completely wiped out everything foreign and bad from the cultural sites of the German people. "

After May 10, 1933, there were other "imitative", that is, non-student book burnings, including on May 12 in Regensburg , May 13 in Neustrelitz , May 14 in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse , and May 22 in Offenbach am Main and Potsdam , on May 30th again in Hamburg (carried out by Hitler Youth and BDM ), on May 31st in Neubrandenburg , on June 17th in Heidelberg , Karlsruhe , Offenburg and Pforzheim , on June 21st in Essen , Darmstadt and Weimar and on June 23 in Mainz . The last action of this kind took place on August 26th in Jena . From August 21 to 24, 65 tons of Bibles and other pamphlets from Jehovah's Witnesses were burned in Magdeburg , but without any connection to the student actions. An exact number cannot be given due to the numerous smaller imitation campaigns, but over a hundred book burnings are documented nationwide for 1933.

In March 1938 the NSDAP, National Group Mexico, organized a “Festival for the completed Anschluss” of Austria in Mexico City, which was also followed by a small book burning. In the same year, books from Jewish communities were burned in many towns and villages, for example in the Franconian towns of Hagenbach , Karlstadt and Steinach . In 1941, several book burnings were carried out in Alsace as part of a "de-whelping operation".

Places of book burns

Non-student book burnings before May 10, 1933
Book burnings from May 10th (AwuG)

Book burnings as part of the “Action Against the Un-German Spirit” (AwuG) on May 10, 1933 and subsequent acts.

  • Bad Kreuznach : May 10th, Kornmarkt
  • Bamberg : July 1st, main arena of the Volkspark
  • Bautzen : August 9th, quarry on Löbauer Strasse
  • Bergedorf near Hamburg: June 24th, as part of the solstice celebration
  • Berlin : May 10th, Opernplatz (AwuG)
  • Bochum : June 9th, Kaiser-Friedrich-Platz, today Imbusch-Platz
  • Bonn : May 10th, Marktplatz (AwuG)
  • Braunschweig : May 10th, Schloßplatz (AwuG)
  • Bremen : May 10, Nordstrasse (AwuG)
  • Breslau : May 10th, Schloßplatz (AwuG)
  • Darmstadt : June 21, Mercksplatz (AwuG)
  • Dortmund : May 10th, Hansaplatz (AwuG)
  • Dresden : May 10, at the Bismarck Column (AwuG)
  • Düsseldorf : May 11th, market square
  • Erlangen : May 12th, Schloßplatz (AwuG)
  • Eutin : June 24th
  • Essen : June 21st, Gerlingplatz
  • Flensburg : May 30th, Exe
  • Frankfurt am Main : May 10, Römer (berg) (AwuG)
  • Freiburg im Breisgau : Big book fire on June 17th on the parade ground; symbolic book burning in the university stadium at a rescheduled solstice celebration on June 24th (AwuG)
  • Gengenbach : June 17th on the market square burning of books and "flags of the Marxist party" by the Hitler Youth
  • Giessen : May 8th, basin of the fountain (AwuG)
  • Göttingen : May 10th, square in front of the Albanischule (then Adolf-Hitler-Platz) (AwuG)
  • Greifswald : May 10th, Marktplatz (AwuG) (here connected with the journalistic "Action for the German Spirit" of the local NSDStB group)
  • Güstrow : June 15th, Glevinertor
  • Halle (Saale) : May 12th - Universitätsplatz (AwuG)
  • Hamburg : May 15, Kaiser-Friedrich-Ufer (AwuG)
  • May 30th, Lübeckertorfeld (by the Hitler Youth )
  • Hamm : May 20, large parade ground (by the Hitler Youth )
  • Hanover: May 10, at the Bismarck Column , see Book Burning in Hanover (AwuG).
  • Hann. Münden : May 10th, Marktplatz (AwuG)
  • Haslach im Kinzigtal : June 24th, at the solstice celebration on the sports field by the Hitler Youth
  • Hausach : June 24th, at the solstice celebration on the Schlossberg by the Hitler Youth
  • Heidelberg : May 17th, Universitätsplatz (AwuG)
    • June 17th, Jubileeplatz, was canceled due to pouring rain.
    • July 16, Universitätsplatz
  • Helgoland : May 18th, school site
  • Jena : August 26th, market square
  • Karlsruhe : June 17th, Schlossplatz
  • Kassel : May 19, Friedrichsplatz (AwuG)
  • Kleve : May 19, courtyard of the State High School Römerstrasse
  • Kiel : May 10, Wilhelmplatz (AwuG)
  • Cologne : May 17th, Memorial of the University (AwuG)
  • Königsberg : May 10th, drum place (AwuG)
  • Landau : May 10th - Rathausplatz (former Paradeplatz) (AwuG)
  • Lübeck : May 26th, at the Buniamshof
  • Mainz : June 23, Adolf-Hitler-Platz
  • Mannheim : May 19, Messplatz / Fire Station (AwuG)
  • Marburg : May 10th, Kämpfrasen (AwuG)
  • Munich : May 10, Königsplatz (AwuG)
  • Münster : May 10, Hindenburgplatz (AwuG)
  • Neubrandenburg : May 31st, market square
  • Neustadt an der Weinstrasse : May 14th, market square
  • Neustrelitz : May 13th, parade and parade ground
  • Nuremberg : May 10, Hauptmarkt (Adolf-Hitler-Platz) (AwuG)
  • Offenbach am Main : May 22nd, in front of the Isenburg Palace
  • Offenburg : June 17th, market square
  • Pforzheim : June 17th, market square
  • Recklinghausen : July 14th, Am Neumarkt (then: Leo-Schlageter-Platz) / Recklinghausen-Süd
  • Regensburg : May 12th, Neupfarrplatz
  • Rendsburg : October 9th, Paradeplatz
  • Rostock : May 10th, Blücherplatz (AwuG)
  • Schiltach : July 1st, at the “Heldenkreuz” (war memorial on the Schrofen) by the Hitler Youth as part of the solstice celebration
  • Schleswig : June 23
  • Stuttgart , Tübingen : the regional leader of the NSDStB Württemberg refused to burn books (AwuG). However, the Württemberg student body took its own action.
  • Uetersen : May 10th, butter market at the old town hall
  • Waldheim 06/09/1933 8:30 p.m. (Source: Waldheimer Tageblatt. No. 131, June 8th 1933)
  • Weimar : June 21st, in Niedergrunstedt at the solstice celebration of the German National Handicrafts Association
  • Wilsdruff : September 23rd, in the Blankenstein quarry, after the flag consecration of the young NS-Wilsdruff
  • Wolfach : June 24th, on the island by the tennis courts (today secondary school) by the Hitler Youth as part of the solstice celebration
  • Worms : May 10, forecourt of the District Court (AwuG)
  • Würzburg : May 10th, Residenzplatz (AwuG)
  • Zell am Harmersbach : June 19th, market square

The persecuted authors

The world stage on March 12, 1929, with the assistance of Kurt Tucholsky , directed by Carl von Ossietzky

See: List of books burned in 1933 and List of banned authors during the Nazi era

The indexed authors included Vicki Baum , Walter Benjamin , Ernst Bloch , Bertolt Brecht , Max Brod , Otto Dix , Alfred Döblin , Albert Einstein , Lion Feuchtwanger , Marieluise Fleißer , Leonhard Frank , Sigmund Freud , Salomo Friedlaender , Iwan Goll , George Grosz , Jaroslav Hašek , Heinrich Heine , Ödön von Horváth , Heinrich Eduard Jacob , Franz Kafka , Georg Kaiser , Erich Kästner , Alfred Kerr , Egon Erwin Kisch , Siegfried Kracauer , Karl Kraus , Theodor Lessing , Alexander Lernet-Holenia , Karl Liebknecht , Georg Lukács , Rosa Luxemburg , Heinrich Mann , Klaus Mann , Ludwig Marcuse , Karl Marx , Robert Musil , Carl von Ossietzky , Erwin Piscator , Alfred Polgar , Erich Maria Remarque , Ludwig Renn , Joachim Ringelnatz , Joseph Roth , Nelly Sachs , Felix Salten , Anna Seghers , Arthur Schnitzler , Carl Sternheim , Bertha von Suttner , Ernst Toller , Kurt Tucholsky , Jakob Wassermann , Franz Werfel , Grete Weiskopf , Arnold Zweig and Stefan Zweig .

Not only German-speaking authors were on the lists, but also the names of the French authors André Gide , Romain Rolland , Henri Barbusse , the American authors Ernest Hemingway , Upton Sinclair , Jack London , John Dos Passos and many Soviet authors, including Maxim Gorki , Isaak Babel , Vladimir Ilyich Lenin , Leon Trotsky , Vladimir Mayakovsky , Ilya Ehrenburg .

The persecution of these authors, whose verbal or written statements contradicted the views of National Socialism and who opposed the “intellectual defense” demanded by them, did not just begin with the book burnings, but only culminated in it. Many writers, but also other artists and scientists, were subsequently banned from working and publishing, disappeared from the libraries and from school lessons and were physically destroyed. They died in the concentration camp , as a result of the conditions of imprisonment or were executed (such as Carl von Ossietzky and Erich Mühsam , Gertrud Kolmar and Jakob van Hoddis , Paul Kornfeld , Arno Nadel and Georg Hermann , Theodor Wolff , Adam Kuckhoff , Rudolf Hilferding ), were expatriated (like Ernst Toller and Kurt Tucholsky ), forced to flee into exile (like Walter Mehring and Arnold Zweig ) or forced into internal emigration , of which Erich Kästner wrote: “You are a living corpse.” Many desperate and took themselves in the Emigration is life, so Walter Hasenclever , Ernst Weiß , Carl Einstein , Walter Benjamin , Ernst Toller, Stefan Zweig .

For writers who fit into the National Socialists' concept, the ban on their colleagues meant taking over the "vacated" places. “Now they are crawling out of every hole, the little provincial whores of literature,” wrote Kurt Tucholsky in 1933, “finally, finally, the Jewish competition is gone - but now! [...] life stories of the new heroes. And then: Alpenrausch and Edelweiss. Mat green and furrow. Schollenkranz and Maienblut - you have no idea, level zero. "


Erich Kaestner

Erich Kästner's portrait on a house in the Kästner Passage in Dresden

Erich Kästner witnessed the burning of his own books on Berlin's Opernplatz and heard his name in the second fire saying.

“And in 1933 my books in Berlin, on the large square next to the State Opera, were burned by a certain Mr. Goebbels with somber solemn pomp. Twenty-four German writers who were to be symbolically erased forever, he triumphantly called by names. I was the only one of the twenty-four who had appeared in person to witness this theatrical impudence. I stood in front of the university, wedged between students in SA uniform, the blossoms of the nation, saw our books fly into the twitching flames and heard the greasy tirades of the cunning little liar. Funeral weather hung over the city. The head of a battered bust of Magnus Hirschfeld was on a long pole that swayed back and forth high above the silent crowd. It was disgusting. Suddenly a shrill woman's voice called out: 'Kästner is there!' A young cabaret artist who was squeezing through the crowd with a colleague had seen me standing and expressed her amazement in an exaggeratedly loud voice. I felt uncomfortable. But nothing happened. (Although a lot was going on these days.) The books continued to fly into the fire. The clever little liar's tirades continued to sound. And the faces of the brown student guards looked, the storm straps under their chins, straight ahead, unchanged, over to the burst of flames and the psalm-modifying, gesticulating devil. For the next decade, I saw my books only the few times that I was abroad. In Copenhagen, in Zurich, in London. It's a strange feeling to be a forbidden writer and never see your books on the shelves and shop windows of bookstores again. In no city in the fatherland. Not even in the hometown. Not even at Christmas, when the Germans rush through the snow-covered streets to get presents. "

- Erich Kästner : Do you know the country where the cannons bloom? - Excerpt from the foreword When reviewing my books.

Oskar Maria Graf

Poster for a reading by Graf in connection with his protest “Burn me!” In Vienna on May 28, 1933

Oskar Maria Graf subsequently asked for his books to be burned because, to his horror, his work was not banned, but recommended by the National Socialists on the “white lists”. He published the following appeal on May 12, 1933 in the Wiener Arbeiter-Zeitung :

"Burn me!
A protest from Oskar Maria Graf.
Like almost all left-wing, decidedly socialist intellectuals in Germany, I also felt a number of blessings from the new regime: During my accidental absence from Munich, the police came to my apartment there to arrest me. They confiscated a large number of irretrievable manuscripts, painstakingly compiled source study material, all of my business papers and a large number of my books. All of this now awaits the probable burn. So I had to leave my home, my work and - worst of all - the earth at home to avoid the concentration camp.
But the best surprise has only now come to me: According to the 'Berliner Börsencourier' I am on the 'white list of authors' of the new Germany, and all my books, with the exception of my main work 'We are prisoners', are recommended!
So I am called to be one of the exponents of the 'new' German spirit!
In vain do I wonder how I earned this shame?
The Third Reich expelled almost all of the important German literature, renounced real German poetry, exiled the greatest number of its most important writers and made it impossible for their works to appear in Germany. The ignorance of some pompous business cycle writers and the unrestrained vandalism of the currently ruling powers-that-be try to eradicate everything that our poetry and art has world-wide recognition and to replace the term 'German' with narrow-minded nationalism. A nationalism, at the suggestion of which even the slightest freedom of movement is suppressed, a nationalism, at the command of which all my upright socialist friends are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, murdered or driven to suicide out of desperation!
And the representatives of this barbaric nationalism, which has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with being German, dare to claim me as one of their 'intellectuals', to put me on their so-called 'white list', which is only in front of the world's conscience can be a blacklist! I don't deserve this dishonor! After all of my life and after all of my writing, I have the right to demand that my books be handed over to the pure flame of the pyre and not fall into the bloody hands and corrupted brains of the brown murderous gang!
Burn the works of the German spirit! He himself will be indelible like your shame!
(All respectable newspapers are requested to reprint this protest. Oskar Maria Graf.) "

However, various lists of books intended for incineration were circulating in the university towns. For example, in the list of burned books published in the Göttinger Tageblatt on May 11, 1933, Oskar Maria Graf was represented with all of his works (except Wonderful People and Calendar History ).

Bertolt Brecht

“When the regime ordered books containing harmful knowledge to be
publicly burned and
oxen were forced everywhere
to pull carts with books to the stake,
a chased poet, one of the best,
studying the list of the burned, was horrified to find that his
books were forgotten were. He hurried to the desk,
angry, and wrote a letter to those in power.
Burn me he wrote with a flying pen, burn me!
Don't do this to me! Don't leave me! Have I not
always told the truth in my books? And now
I'm being treated like a liar by you! I command you, burn me! "

- Bertolt Brecht : The book burning


Speech by Joseph Goebbels , Reich Propaganda Leader of the NSDAP and Gauleiter of Berlin, on May 10, 1933 at Opernplatz in Berlin. Goebbels mentions his appearance in his diary on May 11th: “In the late evening, speech at Opernplatz. In front of the pyre of filth and junk books set on fire by students. I am in the best shape. Giant casserole. "Excerpts:

“The age of exaggerated Jewish intellectualism has come to an end, and the German revolution has cleared the way for German people. This revolution did not come from above, it broke out from below. It is therefore, in the best sense of the word, the execution of the will of the people. [...] In the last fourteen years, in which you, fellow students, had to endure the humiliations of the November Republic in silent disgrace, the libraries were filled with the trash and filth of Jewish asphalt literary writers . […] Revolutions that are real don't stop anywhere. No area may remain untouched. Just as it revolutionizes people, it revolutionizes things. [...] Therefore you would do well to entrust the demons of the past to the flames at this midnight hour. Here the spiritual basis of the November Republic sinks to the ground. But from the rubble will rise victoriously the phoenix of a new spirit, which we carry, which we promote, and to which we give the decisive weight. […] The old lies in the flames, the new will rise again from the flame of our own heart. Wherever we stand together and where we walk together, we want to commit ourselves to the kingdom and its future. If you students take the right to throw the spiritual filth into the flames, then you must also take on the duty to clear the alley for a real German spirit instead of this filth. "

- Speech printed in: Völkischer Beobachter . May 12, 1933

Address by the Germanist Hans Naumann on May 10, 1933 on the market square in Bonn (excerpt):

“So burn, academic youth of the German nation, today at midnight at all universities in the Reich - burn what you have certainly not worshiped before, but what could seduce and threaten you like all of us. When need comes to the man and danger is imminent, action must be taken without too much concern. If a book flies too much into the fire tonight, it doesn't hurt as much as if one flies too little into the flames. What is healthy will stand up again by itself. [...] We want to commit a symbolic act. This fire is a symbol and should continue to work and burn as an invitation to all to do the same; It should continue to have an effect from the student body into the bourgeoisie. We shake off foreign rule, we lift an occupation. We want to free ourselves from an occupation of the German spirit. "

Students of the Bismarck-Gymnasium in Dortmund spoke under the direction of their student assistant Friedhelm Kaiser, his speaking choir Brandfackel :

“Do you recognize the enemies? Cleanse the German land! Bring the flaming fire!
Away with the false prophets! Let others worship them - but we want to kill them!
What the strangers write to us, what the strangers write, should never remain with us, we want to destroy today!
Should not be beguiled by their corrosive addiction, should not destroy us any more German customs and discipline!
Create, strive, show our German spirit!
Consume the old - give birth to the new, bless - condemn fire and flames! Burn, flame! Burn !! "

Newspaper reports

The press willingly made their columns available for student body articles and reported with satisfaction the cremation celebrations.

“The march of the torchlight procession onto the lawn took almost three quarters of an hour. There were many thousands who took part: the student body from the commercial college together with the SA, the engineering school, the DHV and various other national associations. About eight bands marched along. At the end of the journey drove a car with the books that were doomed to death and a large black-red-gold flag that was given to the fire with the books. After the arrival of the Zugspitze, a pile of wood was set on fire, which soon blazed up in mighty sheaves to the night sky and illuminated the place from afar, so that the little stars that looked down curiously had to fade a little. [...] After the Horst Wessel song was sung, the pyre flared up and consumed the books, the un-German spirit full. With the sound of the game we went back to town. "

- New Mannheimer Volksblatt from May 20, 1933 on the book burning on May 19

“The book burning was initiated with a speaking choir from a group of the Association of German Girls. The heap of books was then lit to the sounds of the presentation march and the flames blazed brightly when the girls uttered another fire spell. Book after book was thrown into the flames until the last one was consumed by the fire. With their heads bared, the crowd, which had gathered to a few thousand in the course of the events, then sang the chorale: "Now all thank God". The celebration was closed with the song of the "Good Comrade" and a triple "Sieg Heil" to the Reich Chancellor. "

- Pforzheimer Morgenblatt dated June 19, 1933 on the book burning on June 17

“At 5:30 am, the NSBO ​​and the Hitler Youth marched on the market square. The flags were placed in front of the Bismarck fountain. A great pyre of Marxist flags and books had been erected - and soon a great flame blazed up and destroyed the symbols and intellectual products of the former Marxist rule. The crowd watched the spectacle in silence and moved by the symbolic plot. As the heap crumbled more and more to ashes, their arms were spontaneously raised - and the song of Germany rang out over the market square. "

- Jenaische Zeitung of August 28, 1933 about the book burning on August 26

Dortmunder General-Anzeiger from May 31, 1933

The article German by Kurt Herwarth Ball was distributed as the first article in the "Article Service" of the DSt and was reprinted by the daily press:

“And then there must be something else, this one that the German student body started: The fight against the subhumanity of foreign blooded people. If we want to redesign and preserve the soul of the German people into a blazing flame, then we confidently take hold of the hands that hold out the 12 theses of the German student body to us. Twelve times this hard will of the young sex: 'German!' Twelve times the very strong, blood-like, down-to-earth call: 'German!' And this call from students, from a young generation who got to know hard must as a student trainee in the starving years, as a military student in dishonorable years. Let us close the ranks of German people who are fighting for the future in politics, business, science and literature, in all art, we stand together, a new front that is marching inexorably, whose call is only one word: Germany! "

The first Federal President of Germany, Theodor Heuss , wrote an (unpublished) article for the Vossische Zeitung in which he saw the book burnings in the tradition of the Wartburg Festival and apostrophized it as “not too tragic”, probably also because he was affected by it himself three of his works were indexed and burned, including Hitler's Way (1932). In a letter dated May 7, 1933, Heuss commented: “Some of the people who are on the list are not a bad human neighbors, but next to them there is also the uprooted Jewish literacy against which I have fought over the years, And it is less nice to go down in history with them. ”In his article, Heuss related the book burning to the 'Jewish boycott' of April 1st, and saw the German people even 'defend themselves' against the 'press of the world': Reports of “German atrocities” and “'German pogroms [sic] with mass victims” were said to have been instigated by “Eastern Jewish communist circles from London and New York”.

Protest and remembrance

1943 on behalf of the United States Office of War Information out given Posters: " Ten years ago, the Nazis burned thesis books ... but free Americans can quietly read them " (German: "Ten years ago the burnt Nazis these books ... but free Americans can still reading ")

"This was just a prelude, where you burn books, you end up burning people."

This prophetic sentence by Heinrich Heine from his tragedy Almansor (1821) became reality in Germany after 1933. Contrary to popular belief, the quote does not refer to the book burning at the Wartburg Festival in 1817 , but rather to a burning of the Koran after the conquest of Spanish Granada by Christian knights (for context and exact wording see: Book burning ).

The book burning met with a wide echo at home and abroad. Most newspapers in Germany were enthusiastic. But there was also public criticism and occasional resistance. The aggressive posting of the twelve theses, for example, led to isolated protests in some universities. The rector of the Berlin University , Eduard Kohlrausch , announced his resignation if the poster was not removed from the vestibule of the university. Gerhard Schumann , the Württemberg regional leader of the NS student union , forbade participation in the "Action against the un-German spirit" and, despite protests from individual student bodies from Berlin, stuck to his ban and was supported by the Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs Mergenthaler . The theologian Richard Rinke drew a letter of protest with his full name, nothing is known about his further fate. Overall, however, there were hardly any public protests or active resistance.

On May 10, 1933, the famous collage by John Heartfield appeared on the cover of the Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung in Prague , showing Joseph Goebbels with a raised finger in front of the Reichstag in flames and in front of the burning books. The title was: Through light to night.

Emigrated writers and their friends campaigned abroad as early as 1933 against the “deadline for barbarism” ( Alfred Kantorowicz ). As early as April 27, there were protests against the planned book burnings in the USA, Helen Keller intervened together with well-known authors such as Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis in a letter to the German students, unsuccessfully. On May 10, there was a march in New York, in which hundreds of thousands of private individuals, members of parliament and other officials from churches and institutions took part, and the main address was given by the mayor. It is known from the Netherlands that on the day of the book burning, Radio Hilversum broadcast excerpts from the banned books.

In May 1933 Ernst Toller , who emigrated from Germany, criticized the XI. PEN Club Congress in Ragusa (Dubrovnik) the passive attitude of many members against fascism and National Socialism. “Millions of people in Germany are not allowed to speak and write freely. When I speak here, I am speaking for these millions who have no vote today. ”However, the PEN Club refused to take a clear stance on the book burnings. The writers who had fled and chased from Germany soon found themselves in a new center: » The German PEN in Exile «. This group, founded by Lion Feuchtwanger , Ernst Toller, Rudolf Olden and Max Herrmann-Neiße , had its seat in London , the first president was Heinrich Mann .

Austrian authors and PEN members protested against the persecution of their German colleagues, including later emigrants such as Raoul Auernheimer , Franz Theodor Csokor , Ernst Lothar and Friedrich Torberg . Csokor, like many of his colleagues dependent on the Reich German market, wrote on May 19, 1933: “You just have to decide: good business - or a good conscience? I am in favor of the second - at all risk, even emigration, if the brown magic should take hold in our home too! ”However,“ German-friendly ”and Nazi Viennese PEN members left the club, including Max Mell , Richard Billinger , Bruno Brehm and Josef Weinheber , and founded the Association of German Writers in Austria . On April 30, 1933, the Wiener Arbeiter-Zeitung put it pointedly : “The Third Reich needs lackeys […] A poet's spring should be green on mounds of corpses. […] Göbbels invited them to tea - the writers had to choose: spirit or power, character or business, brave isolation or cowardly conformity . You have chosen. The men went into exile, the creatures went to tea. "

As a result, May 10th as “Book of the Burning Day” became an annual meeting point for many authors in exile, especially in Paris , but also in London , Mexico City , Moscow , New York and Prague . The tenth anniversary of the book burning on May 10, 1943 was particularly popular in the United States. An exhibition of banned and burned books was opened in the New York Public Library in December 1942 , and numerous other events, performances, lectures and readings brought the literature banned by the National Socialists to a large audience. In a speech on the BBC broadcaster , Thomas Mann noted that the tenth return on May 10th led to "truly touching" and "deeply shameful rallies" for the German refugees.

Peter Suhrkamp spoke on Opernplatz in Berlin in 1947:

“The flames that first crackled over the pile of books later devoured our cities in the firestorm, human dwellings, the people themselves. It is not the day of the book burning alone that has to be remembered, but this chain: from the bonfire in this place to the synagogue fires to the fires from heaven on the cities. "

In the GDR , May 10th was celebrated as the day of the free book .


The memorial of Micha Ullman at Berlin Bebelplatz (Opernplatz) , an underground chamber with empty bookshelves
Commemorative plaque on Bebelplatz in Berlin-Mitte : "On this square the Nazi demons destroyed the best works of German and world literature. The fascist book burning of May 10, 1933 is an eternal warning to be vigilant against imperialism and war (May 12, 1983)"
Information board in Hanover at the Maschsee at the Geibelbastion for book burning

On Berlin's Bebelplatz next to the State Opera , the memorial commemorating the book burning with a glass plate embedded in the pavement commemorates the book burning of 1933. It provides a view of the “Library” memorial by Israeli artist Micha Ullman, which consists of empty bookshelves . Two bronze plaques set into the floor are reminiscent of the book burning, on which the sentence from Heinrich Heine's Almansor ( see above ), which is not quoted literally, is engraved.

In some German cities, text boards remind of the book burning: In Hanover , an information board at the Maschsee near the Geibel bastion reminds of the book burning. In Göttingen there is a memorial plaque at the Albanikirchhof (at the time Adolf-Hitler-Platz) with the quote Heine (see above). On the Römerberg in Frankfurt , between the old Nikolaikirche and the Fountain of Justice, a bronze plaque commemorates the book burning. In Hamburg-Eimsbüttel there is a memorial in memory of the book burning in Hoheluft on the Isebek Canal, Kaiser-Friedrich-Ufer / corner of Heymannstraße. In Landau there is a memorial plaque on the town hall square. In Essen there is a memorial plaque on Gerlingplatz. A memorial plaque was attached to the Tonhalle in Düsseldorf in 1993 . There are other boards in Bremen , Erlangen , Halle (Saale) and Cologne as well as in Regensburg .

To date, there is no memorial to the book burning in Munich on Königsplatz . The artist Wolfram Kastner has repeatedly burned a black circle into the lawn of the Königsplatz where the burnings took place. He also campaigned for the remains of burned works to be housed in the planned Nazi documentation center on Königsplatz. Kastner also carried out campaigns to commemorate the book burnings in other cities under the title “The Trace of Books”, including Salzburg, Frankfurt, Kassel and Heidelberg.

In Salzburg , a memorial was under discussion for the late commemoration of the only book burning on Austrian soil in the run-up to the redesign of Residenzplatz in 2007. Mayor Heinz Schaden (SPÖ) found a plaque to be sufficient. They agreed on a memorial which, as a compromise, was to be a level memorial set in the panels “with the involvement of historians” and which was to be awarded as part of the architectural competition that had already been announced. The winning project by the architects Rieder and Knittel envisaged a movable memorial to the burning of books, which should be transformed into a programmable and playable light sculpture at night. The project was not implemented, the memorial was still pending and was requested in 2009 in an initiative of the citizens' list. For the 75th anniversary in 2013, the "Free Word" initiative organized an extensive commemorative program. The winning project for the redesign of Residenzplatz was presented at the beginning of 2016. The construction work is to be carried out from March 2017 to July 2018, the total costs should amount to 4.9 million euros. On April 30, 2018, the 80th anniversary of the book burning on Salzburg's Residenzplatz, a memorial designed by Fatemeh Naderi and Florian Ziller was unveiled. This measures 2.4 × 2.4 meters and protrudes about 45 centimeters from the ground. The black skeleton of a book is visible through a glass plate, with the inscription “30. April 1938 Book Burning Against Oblivion ”.

In Vienna , the English artist Rachel Whiteread designed the Holocaust memorial on Judenplatz in 2000 . It is not an explicit memorial for the book burning, but it represents a petrified library with its inverted books facing outwards.

The online memorial site of the project "Burned Places - Online Atlas on the NS Book Burnings of 1933" has been on the Internet since 2014. Since then, an atlas with the locations of the book burnings has been created on the website. Interactive panoramas enable visitors to get closer to the “burned places”, photographs bring selected perspectives into focus and background texts offer a content-related discussion. Wherever it is available, additional historical material makes history tangible.


In Prague in 1933 a collection of the burned books was called for for an exhibition that was later destroyed.

German Liberty Library

To mark the first anniversary of the book burning, the writer Alfred Kantorowicz and his friends from the Protection Association of German Writers in Paris, SDS, founded a "Library of Burned Books" ( German Freedom Library ) on May 10, 1934 , which was opened by Alfred Kerr and Egon Erwin Kisch . What was forbidden and burned in Germany was brought together by emigrants to Paris from all over the world. As early as May 10, 1934, the Liberty Library had over 11,000 volumes. The German Freedom Library was destroyed after the German troops marched into Paris, so that there is still no complete library of burned books.

After the war, Kantorowicz and Drews published the anthology Verboten und burned in memory of this library, which read in the foreword:

“It was not a 'spontaneous act' by an unreasonable crowd, but a well-considered and carefully organized event of National Socialist state reason. Just as the Reichstag arson foundation on February 28, 1933 the beacon of terror against all anti-fascists, the boycott of the Jews on April 1, 1933 the start of the pogroms, the dissolution and robbery of the unions on May 2, 1933 the proclamation of social oppression, so they were Autodafés of May 10th the visible beginning of the officially decreed and terrorist means of de-spiritualisation and barbarization of Germany. "

Salzmann Collection

The Gräfelfinger financial businessman George P. Salzmann built since 1945, systematically since 1976, a private library in 1933 destroyed by the burning of books title. The collector sought to hand over the books to a public institution who could make them generally available as a reference library . Lengthy efforts by various cities failed due to the funding, until finally, in 2009, the Free State of Bavaria acquired the entire inventory for the Augsburg University Library . The processing has not yet been completed, but most of the books have been indexed and are freely accessible. The total stock is estimated at 12,000 volumes by 120 persecuted authors, in addition to a large number of first prints, mostly new editions, a total of around 8,000 different editions. The Augsburg University Library endeavors to close gaps in order to complete the works of the authors that Salzmann has collected on a large scale.

Forbidden and burned / exile

In the 1980s, the S. Fischer Verlag published a series of books Verboten und burnnt / Exil (based on the “Library of Burned Books” of KonkretLiteraturVerlag , founded in 1981 ) in which it published at least 25 unabridged titles that were published between 1933 and 1945 outside NS - Germany had been printed. In 1993 the publishing house discontinued the series. Exhibitions with the books concerned often used the double term “forbidden and burned” popularized by Kantorowicz in 1947 either as a title or as part of the title, for example in Heilbronn 1983.

Library of Burned Books

In 2006, on the occasion of the 73rd anniversary, the work by Hugo Preuss State, Law and Freedom was reissued as a pilot project . The German-Jewish constitutional lawyer Hugo Preuss (1860–1925) was one of the most important masterminds behind the Weimar constitution of 1919. His book was published posthumously in 1926 with a foreword by the future Federal President Theodor Heuss and was publicly burned on May 10, 1933.

The Moses Mendelssohn Center in Potsdam , together with Georg Olms Verlag, published the first 10 volumes of a “library of burned books” on May 10, 2008, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the book burnings. The cassette contains works by Salomo Friedlaender , André Gide , Theodor Heuss , Franz Kafka , Erich Kästner , Gina Kaus , Jack London , Walther Rathenau , Anna Seghers and Kurt Tucholsky . In this reprint edition with afterwords to the new edition, up to 120 volumes are to be presented. Thanks to numerous sponsors, the cassette is being given away to up to 4,000 schools leading to the Abitur.

edition phoenix

In the edition phoenix , Frankfurt's Westhafen Verlag publishes forgotten books that are still worth reading today, which fell victim to the book burnings of the National Socialists in 1933 and have not been reprinted in Germany since. Part of the sales proceeds will benefit the German Exile Archive 1933–1945, a special collection of the German National Library in Frankfurt am Main. So far, works by Michail Kusmin , Eva Leidmann , Leo Hirsch , Richard Hoffmann and Heinrich Kurtzig have been published . The series continues.

See also



  • The day the books burned. Documentation, Germany 2003, 45 min., Book: Henning Burk, Hess.Rundfunk / 3sat
  • Trail of fire. Documentation, Germany, 2008, 52 min., Script and director: Henry Köhler, production: RossPointFilm, Pinguin Film, MDR , first broadcast: October 29, 2008, summary by arte

Web links

Commons : Book burning in Nazi Germany  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files





Individual evidence

  1. Bebelplatz. In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert )
  2. See Werner Thieme : German University Law. 1956, p. 331 ff.
  3. ^ Michael Grüttner : Students in the Third Reich . Paderborn 1995, pp. 54 and 250 ff .; see also Stefanie Senger: Students as companions of the Nazi dictatorship. ( Memento from December 24, 2013 in the web archive )
  4. a b Call by the German student body to plan and carry out public book burnings ( memento of December 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 4.7 MB).
  5. German culture watch. Issue 9, 1933.
  6. Files of the German student body in the "Archive of the former Reichsstudentenführung" in the University Library of Würzburg
  7. ^ A b c Book Burning: Propaganda and Bureaucracy., archived from the original on June 29, 2008 ; Retrieved June 26, 2011 .
  8. ^ Wigbert Benz: The continuity of the journalist: Paul Karl Schmidt alias Paul Carell. ( Memento of October 27, 2004 in the Internet Archive ) In: Forum “Barbarossa”. Article 6, 2004; Full text of the 12 theses in Wikisource
  9. Quoted in H.-W. Strätz: The student “Action against the un-German spirit” in the spring of 1933. In: Quarterly books for contemporary history . Year 16, Issue 4, 1968, pp. 356–357; (PDF) accessed on May 13, 2013.
  10. Lorenz Pfeiffer: Students of the German University for Physical Exercise as Actors of the 'Action Against the Un-German Spirit' in the spring of 1933 In: Yearbook 2008 of the German Society for the History of Sports Sciences. P. 50 ff. ( Limited preview in Google Book search)
  11. Kästner and the book burning: "It was disgusting" . one day ; Retrieved May 12, 2013.
  12. Jürgen Verdofsky: Erich Kästner looked. on: , May 8, 2013; Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  13. Holocaust - The National Socialist Genocide and the Motives of its Memory., accessed on June 26, 2011 .
  14. Against the un-German literature. In: Freiburg newspaper. May 8, 1933, first evening edition, [p. 2]
  15. ^ Heiko Wegmann: Books were also burned by the Nazis in Freiburg. In: Badische Zeitung . August 21st, 2013.
  16. May 10, 1933 - Book burning. ( Memento of February 3, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 72 kB). In: Current term. No. 12, German Bundestag, April 7, 2008.
  17. Reading against oblivion. In: Hamburger Abendblatt , May 15, 2018, p. 19.
  18. First the books burn…. In: Hamburger Abendblatt . May 16, 2018, p. 15. Author abbreviation (cum).
  19. ^ Commemorative plaque for the book burning on June 24, 1933 on the sports field at Schulenbrooksweg in Bergedorf, unveiled on June 24, 2010
  20. Thomas Paterjey: professional ethics and career in Nazi times. In: Kieler Nachrichten , May 2, 2018, p. 16.
  21. Janine Burnicki, Jürgen Steen: The burning of books on May 10, 1933. Institute for City History, City of Frankfurt am Main 2003, updated on June 5, 2015.
  22. ^ Heinz Dopsch, Robert Hoffmann: Salzburg - history of a city. Anton Pustet, Salzburg 2008, p. 564.
  23. ^ Johannes Hofinger: The Leopoldskron Files. Publisher Anton Pustet, Salzburg / Munich 2005.
  24. ^ Measures taken by the governor in the Lauchstädter Goethe Theater; Magdeburgische Zeitung , June 1, 1933, No. 277, main edition
  25. ^ Sybil Milton: Jehovah's Witnesses. Forgotten Victims? In: Jehovah's Witnesses - Forgotten Victims of National Socialism? (=  Series of publications by the Austrian resistance on the history of Nazi violent crimes . Volume 3 ). Documentation archive of the Austrian resistance, Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-901142-38-X , p. 24 ( [PDF; 1000 kB ; accessed on December 16, 2013]).
  26. Overview of the places of book burnings in 1933. on:
  27. Compare Werner Tress: Against the un-German spirit . Berlin 2003 and Wolfram Kastner (ed.): How grass grows over history. 1996, with additions
  28. a b Remembering for the Future. ( Memento from June 8, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (= Bulletin of the Bochum Citizens' Association . No. 12). Bochum Citizens' Association Bochum, September 2008.
  29. ^ Matthias Lienert: Intoxication and Terror. The Technische Hoschule Dresden and the book burning on May 10, 1933 . In: Mike Schmeitzner , Gerhard Lindemann (ed.): ... that's where we strike. Political violence in Saxony 1930–1935 (= Reports and Studies No. 78 of the Hannah Arendt Institute for Research on Totalitarianism). V & R unipress, Göttingen 2020, ISBN 978-3-8471-0934-1 , pp. 105-133.
  30. ^ Heiko Wegmann: The overlooked book burning. In: Badische Zeitung. August 10, 2013.
  31. ^ Heiko Wegmann: Books were also burned by the Nazis in Freiburg. In: Badische Zeitung. August 21st, 2013.
  32. The Kinzigbote. (Gengenbacher Wochenblatt). June 20, 1933.
  33. Mecklenburg daily newspaper. Guestrow. June 15 and 17, 1938.
  34. ^ Rainer Hoffschildt: The book burning on May 10, 1933. 1992.
  35. ^ Manfred Hildenbrand: The National Socialist "seizure of power" in a small town. Haslach i. K. in 1933. In: The Ortenau. 63, 1983, p. 226.
  36. Claudia Ramsteiner: Literature at the stake. 75 years ago today, books were blazing in the solstice fire on the Hausacher Schlossberg. In: bathe online. June 24, 2008.
  37. Source here
  38. ^ Bernhard Lübbers: Book burning in 1933 in Regensburg. Regensburg 2016 ( online )
  39. The Kinzigtäler newspaper . July 3, 1933.
  40. The Kinzigtäler newspaper . June 26, 1933.
  41. Dieter Petri: Zell am Harmersbach through the ages. Zell am Harmersbach 2010, p. 419; Black Forest Post. June 20, 1933.
  42. Burn me! A protest from Oskar Maria Graf. In:  Arbeiter-Zeitung , May 12, 1933, p. 1 (online at ANNO ). Template: ANNO / Maintenance / aze.
  43. Göttingen book burning - authors - details - Oskar Maria Graf July 22, 1894 (Berg) - June 28, 1967 (New York) writer, socialist, anti-militarist. ( Memento from July 15, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) at:
  44. ^ Diaries. Volume 2: 1930–1934, Munich 1999.
  45. Stefan George: But left is over . In: Die Zeit , No. 20/2003.
  46. Un-German spirit went up in flames . In: General-Anzeiger . May 31, 1933 ( [accessed on June 26, 2011] about the National Socialist book burning on Dortmund's Hansaplatz).
  47. quoted from: Gerhard Sauder (Ed.): Die Bücherverbremse. Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 86.
  48. ^ Theodor Heuss estate in the Koblenz Federal Archives; N 1221/52
  49. Wolfram P. Kastner: The trace of the books.
  50. ↑ A memorial to commemorate the book burning on Residenzplatz is required!, September 21, 2009, accessed on June 26, 2011 .
  51. Salzburg commemorates the book burning in 1938. In: Der Standard. April 30, 2013.
  52. New Residenzplatz: Winning project presented. on: , March 1, 2016, accessed on March 1, 2016.
  53. Dark chapter becomes visible: memorial reminds of book burning . In: Salzburger Nachrichten , April 28, 2018; accessed on April 30, 2018.
  54. Burned Places. Retrieved November 15, 2018 .
  55. Claus-Dieter Krohn , Patrik von zur Mühlen , Gerhard Paul, Lutz Winckler (eds.): Handbook of German-speaking Emigration 1933–1945. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft / Primus, Darmstadt 1998, ISBN 3-89678-086-7 ; Walter A. Berendsohn: The humanistic front. Volume 1: Introduction to German Emigrant Literature . Zurich 1946.
  56. ^ Alfred Kantorowicz , Richard Drews: "Forbidden and burned" - German literature suppressed for 12 years. Ullstein / Kindler, Berlin / Munich 1947.
  57. ^ Library of Burned Books - Salzmann Collection.
  58. see also: Aufbau , Vol. 13, December 26, 1947, No. 52, p. 15, the German National Library has the article
  59. About the project "Library of Burned Books".
  60. (PDF)
  61. Review
  62. 57 original articles from burned books, short biographies of the authors